Botox is the most popular cosmetic treatment in the world, with millions of procedures performed each year. But it is probably one of those things you’ve always assumed you’ll think more about in 15 or 20 years. After all, Botox is largely used by an older demographic to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Botox has fundamentally been used for treating wrinkles that are already formed, but in recent years it has transitioned into being used as a tool for prophylactic, or prevention, of wrinkles. There is a consensus among the medical community that if started earlier, it can help slow the formation of permanent wrinkles.
What is preventative Botox and how does it work?
People develop wrinkles because, over time, skin weakens and can’t effectively bounce back from the folding caused by laughing, smiling, frowning and other motions your face makes on a regular basis. So, it is typically recommended treating wrinkles in two steps: Using a topical retinol product to stimulate collagen, which strengthens your skin, and then using neuromodulators like Botox to relax facial muscles and prevent them from constricting and wrinkling overlying skin together. Preventative Botox simply starts that process early on people who need it more.
Preventative Botox is used to retrain facial muscles and improve facial posture that can cause wrinkles. By using very precise and discrete placement of a neuromodulator like Botox, we are targeting specific muscles that are pulling in a direction we don’t want. It allows for opposing muscles to pull in the opposite direction to become stronger over time, allowing for muscles to age more evenly.
Botox specifically prevents dynamic wrinkles, or wrinkles caused by muscle movements. Those typically include lines around the sides of your mouth, horizontal lines across the forehead, crow’s feet, and wrinkles on the side of your nose. By freezing these muscles with Botox, you can prevent their movement and ensuing wrinkles.
The right age to start
The best time to start treating wrinkles is when they first appear. Initially, wrinkles will start to show up when you’re making facial expressions and will go away at rest. However, over time wrinkles will start to stick around, even when you’re not making a particular facial expression. When you start to develop the earliest sign of resting wrinkles, this is the best time to start treating them, before wrinkles start to stick – it is presumptive to assume that they will develop.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved Botox for adults between the ages of 18 and 65. Skin ages at a different rate and is affected by common factors differing for each patient’s skin type, race, level of sun exposure, genetics, lifestyle and facial mobility (frequency of use of facial expression). Because of these determining factors it is recommended patients seek treatment when they begin to notice signs of line etching when their face is in a relaxed position, which can range from the late 20s to early 30s for most patients.
Doctors can usually tell if and where you might need preventative Botox just by looking at your face. For example, someone who regularly purses her lips and furrows her brow out of habit might start to get lines around her mouth and forehead in her 20s. Botox can be injected in the right places to help ‘train’ a person’s face to no longer fall into that habit, lowering the odds that they’ll develop permanent wrinkles in those spots.
Starting Botox in your 20s or 30s doesn’t mean you’re going to be hooked on injectables for the rest of your life. Ideally, patients come back less and less often over time. Some people may need a touch-up after four months, while others may not need to come back for a year or even longer.
Is preventative Botox for everyone?
Preventative Botox isn’t for everyone. Everyone needs to use sunscreen, but not everyone needs Botox. It’s just another tool in an individual’s wrinkle-preventing arsenal, along with safe sun habits, moisturizer and anti-ageing products. If you’re doing everything right but find that you’re starting to have these resting wrinkles, you might want to look into the procedure.
Benefits of preventative Botox
Patients seeking preventative Botox treatments may reap more benefits than those using Botox as a corrective cosmetic procedure. Aside from being avidly used to smooth facial wrinkles in the forehead, between the eyebrows and around the eyes, the effects of cosmetic Botox can also improve facial symmetry; arching of the eyebrows, the resting position of a scowling mouth, and correcting a gummy smile. Also, by injecting Botox at the first sign of ageing, muscles are paralyzed from contraction thereby preventing deep set wrinkles to form. The proper amount of units of Botox administered by a doctor can soften facial wrinkles, while still allowing slight movement for more natural facial expressions.